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To Have and Have Not (1937)

by Ernest Hemingway

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,116732,949 (3.41)152
The dramatic, brutal story of Harry Morgan, an honest boat owner who is forced into running contraband between Cuba and Key West as a means of keeping his crumbling family financially afloat. His adventures lead him into the world of the wealthy and dissipated yachtsmen who swarm the region, and involve him in a strange and unlikely love affair.… (more)
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English (67)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
A hard book from a hard time and a hard man. This is the third time I've read To Have and Have Not. More layers surfaced, or maybe I just remembered them after forgetting. Harry Morgan would have been a great serial detective in an earlier grittier Key West and EH a great detective writer. The casual crossings of the wealthy and the poor from a time when people did starve in this country. Before the option of corn syrup laden junk food. The casual use of the n word as part of conversation and not the N word used for conscious denigration immediately makes this one of EH's least popular books. But the hardness of the lives led and the unsparing gaze of Hemingway left me feeling, that with my peripheral vision, I caught a glimpse of a slice of life from another time and of how hard life could be. No happy endings here. After reading I held paperback and patted the attractive Scribner's cover, thinking that though it wasn't smooth, that it was a good read. A tell tale sign of a very good book. ( )
  JBreedlove | Jun 8, 2024 |
To Lose and Lose Again
Review of the Green Light eBook edition (December 12, 2013) of the Scribner's hardcover original (1937).

"A man," Harry Morgan said, looking at them both. "One man alone ain't got. No man alone now." He stopped. "No matter how a man alone ain't got no bloody--chance."


[rating lowered due to print faults in this edition]
To Have and Have Not is one of the many Hemingway books which I read in my pre-GR and pre-reviewing days. I've previously read a Scribner's paperback and listened to the Simon & Schuster audiobook (2006) narrated by Will Patton. My last rating was a 3-star. The various faults and inconsistencies in this cheap (99 cent) eBook calls for a 2-star.

The book is already problematic for various reasons. It is cobbled together from two short stories One Trip Across (first published in Cosmopolitan in 1934) and The Tradesman's Return (first published in Esquire in 1936) with an extended third episode making the final 2/3rds of the book. Its casual racism is authentic for the time, but is cringeworthy to read in the present day. All of the stories take place during depression era Key West, Florida and turbulent times in 1930s Cuba, after the Gerardo Machado dictatorship has fallen, but with revolutionaries battling the various post-Machado governments.

The stories chart the fall of Key West boat captain Harry Morgan (a "Have Not") from fishing tourism chartering to smuggling and involvement with criminal elements. After being stiffed for his fees by an absconding American, Morgan turns to ferrying Chinese immigrants between Cuba and Florida, with murderous results. Then on a liquor smuggling operation he and his mate are shot up by Cuban authorities. Harry loses an arm in the process. In the finale, Morgan becomes the unwitting getaway boat driver for a Cuban bank-robbing gang, with fatal results.

Morgan's hard scrabble life is contrasted with intermittent scenes of "The Haves" during the final chapters. These are various views of rich American tourists drinking in bars or lounging on their yachts. There is a roman à clef element where the drunken novelist Richard Gordon is apparently meant to be a portrayal of one-time Hemingway friend John Dos Passos with whom there had been a falling out.

The main problem with this eBook edition is that it has obviously been done via a text scan of an authentic edition, but without a thorough copy-editing to fix the scan errors. So at various times you see words like "Pm" for "I'm" or "Jake" for "lake", which are just ridiculous. You have to mark it down for sloppiness.

I can't completely dislike the book though, as it has Hemingway's one and only reference to my heritage country of Estonia, for which he uses the then current spelling "Esthonia" or "Esthonians" and the famous quote:
No well-run yacht basin in Southern waters is complete without at least two sunburned, salt bleached-headed Esthonians.


Trivia and Links
To Have and Have Not has had three film adaptations.

See photograph at https://www.capa.com/assets/img/To-Have-and-Have-Not-2-bc72bb74b8.jpg
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the 1944 film adaptation.
The first was To Have and Have Not (1944) directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. You can watch the trailer for it here. This adaptation turns it into a World War II related movie with the French Resistance opposing Vichy France on the island of Martinique.

The second was The Breaking Point (1950) directed by Michael Curtiz and starring John Garfield. You can watch the trailer for it here.

See film poster at https://img94.pixhost.to/images/1076/460615735_0051687.jpg
Movie poster for the 1958 film adaptation.

The third was The Gun Runners (1958) directed by Don Siegel and starring Audie Murphy. You can watch the trailer for it here. ( )
  alanteder | Apr 29, 2024 |
This is like Ozark but old and with fisherman. Beginning had me pretty hooked, there's a lot of really good action scenes in this. Near the end, the plot gets a little lost in random people - like a tom buchanan style 4 way cheating mess for reasons I still do not understand. I liked it for the drama but only as a housewives viewer and not a reader of this damn story. There's another part before Harry's death reveal where the author pans across random people in the sea who in similar dire situations as Harry and from a literary POV I get it but I had to skip even though I rarely do this.

Also an uncomfortable amount of slurs in this, I know this man lived in a different time but it's still super jarring. Also Hemingway loves to emphasize how ugly and awful every woman in this story is. Like why. There was one chapter where a guy sees Harry's wife looking a little dishevelled as she's walking to the sheriffs office (because her husband was literally helping smuggle Cuban revolutionaries and DID NOT COME HOME) and the guy goes yuck did you see her boobs. That was the whole chapter.

Star allocation:
1 for all the times harry fights for life at sea despite his #2 almost always dead/dying or dead weight
2 for few scenes between harry and his wife, this man can write romance missed opp, should've just dropped the scenes about literal fish to make room
3 for when harry kicks the bucket and his wife closes the book by saying she doesnt a shit about her kids lmaoooo ( )
  ratatatatatat | Feb 21, 2024 |
Hmm... starts out really linear, then gets a bit random with a long digression right at the end. Still all types of great, though. ( )
  aleshh | Jan 12, 2024 |
A book club pick ;)

The only Hemingway I’ve ever read was The Old Man and the Sea, and as a school assignment besides. So I voted yes with enthusiasm when my book club suggested we read this one.

I enjoyed the writing from the start. The descriptions of fishing were magnificent. And yet, why would you fight a beautiful creature of the sea, just so that you may win and it may die?

The dialogues are alive, rich and colourful, you can taste them.

“What happened to your arm?” the lawyer asked Harry. Harry has the sleeve pinned up to the shoulder.

“I didn’t like the look of it so I cut it off,” Harry told him.


I liked how Hemingway lets you catch glimpses of a different time and place, with a word here, or just a hint of a scent, a colour there.

Despite all this, I felt annoyed and bored. The women were mostly very silly and ridiculous. In general, there was a lot of “of its time” stuff in here, and I am still not sure how I felt about that. Also, I have seen this story before; I’ve met all these people before, in various reincarnations, in other books. Had this very short novel been better constructed, I would have been willing to overlook this. The POV changes and jumps between first and third person jarred, I felt. The cacophony of characters by the end added nothing to the narrative and just felt chaotic. They were not people, either, they were more like bugs under a magnifying glass – watch them crawl, oh, look, they picked up a piece of shit and are eating it, such weird bugs. I mostly just wanted the book to be over.

P.S. There might be better Hemingways out there. Recommendations, anyone? ( )
  Alexandra_book_life | Dec 15, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
". . . a turbulent, searching story of Key West and Havana in these strange years of grace. . . . stronger than 'The Sun Also Rises,' not as good as 'A Farewell to Arms' . . ."
added by GYKM | editNew York Times, Charles G. Poore (Oct 15, 1937)
 

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hemingway, Ernestprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aaltonen, ToiniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrata, GiansiroEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koning, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Low, WilliamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monicelli, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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You know how it is there early in the morning in Havana with the bums still asleep against the walls of the buildings; before even the ice wagons come by with ice for the bars?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The dramatic, brutal story of Harry Morgan, an honest boat owner who is forced into running contraband between Cuba and Key West as a means of keeping his crumbling family financially afloat. His adventures lead him into the world of the wealthy and dissipated yachtsmen who swarm the region, and involve him in a strange and unlikely love affair.

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Legacy Library: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

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